Recorded at Carleton's eight-track home studio (with the exception of the title cut), this disc mines mostly light folk-rock territory. Carleton's compositions explore concerns about the environment, faith, broken romance, and the bewildering confusion engendered by modern times. Sometimes the record is so light that it might be more fairly categorized as folk than rock. Carleton's voice retains its appealing, slightly vibrant, Celtic-tinged quality. His melodies are pleasant, and there are numerous odd twists in his lyrics that you won't find in those by a lot of polite, contemporary folksingers (like the mix of ecology and love in "Environmental Girlfriend"). Also, unlike a lot of folky performers in his position, Carleton resists the always ill-founded strategy of over-production in an effort to capture the adult-contemporary market. There are electric instruments here, but they're played sensitively, as if they were acoustic ones; the percussion and bass are light and sympathetic. So one might ask, Why don't they play this guy on public radio or Prairie Home Companion? Unfortunately, the answer has more to do with circumstance than talent. -- Richie Unterberger


THIS IS YOUR LIFE CD 2005   by Richie Unterberger
Very few rock musicians have had as long a career as Denny Carleton has by making music so simultaneously accessible and uncommercial. Though his melodies are catchy and his reedy vocals engaging, his songs are nonetheless too quirky and homespun to truly enter the mainstream. Artistically (if not financially), those are attributes rather than drawbacks, and This Is Your Life — another in a long line of self-released efforts — finds his talents undimmed in his mid-'50s. Shades of pop, folk, and even traces of Irish and Celtic music find their way into his brand of rock, straightforward and earnest yet packed with witticisms and eccentricities. Wacky references to popular culture, whimsical nostalgia, and a generally amused joy in the ups and downs of everyday life abound. Carleton also has fun both paying homage to and subverting aspects of his musical heritage. He uses many of the lyrics of Buddy Holly's "Words of Love" in the track of the same name on this disc, for instance, but matching them to an entirely different melody, he changes it to something entirely more contemplative, adult, and melancholic. The record sounds more mundane on paper, perhaps, than it really is; it's a low-key pleasure to be enjoyed by those who like heartfelt music that doesn't feel like it needs to be overtly weird, harsh, or dissonant to be independent of popular trends. The one substantial criticism that could be levied is that the production is sometimes thin and not of the highest standard, though it could also be argued that this lo-fi lack of pretense (with Carleton often playing and singing everything himself) suits the artist's auteurist aesthetic.

Lion Productions

A group who definitely live up to their name – given that their recordings are so obscure, they were lost souls from the very start! Yet there's also a genius here that should have made them huge – an inherent tunefulness that clearly shows a love of The Beatles, Hollies, and a handful of other Brit groups – but delivered with an edge that's more like early Who or Creation – and by that last reference, we mean both the fab 60s British group, and the later 80s label with the same name!

These tunes are fantastic little gems – catchy, but not commercial – charming, but never cloying – and often driven by some exceptionally strong basslines at the bottom, which works great with the warmer vocal harmonies and jangly guitars.

Titles include "Dare To Surmise", "Love I Won't Admit", "Look At Me", "Things That Are Important", "Diamond Head", "Livin The Way I Want To", and "Trashcan Throne" – and the CD also features a few live tracks, and some bonus material too – 26 titles in all, by a group who hopefully won't be lost souls any longer!

Not only is this the first time the music of the Lost Souls has been available since that cassette, our Lion Productions edition is the first release for many additional Lost Souls cuts, including alternate versions of key tracks like the insightful ‘Things That Are Important’ and ‘I’m Falling’ (the closest to a hit the band ever had), all taken from the original tapes and carefully mastered. Seven bonus tracks highlight the work of Lost Soul's main songwriter Denny Carleton (one-time member of The Choir, and more surprisingly, punk legends the Pagans); selections by The Choir, Moses, Milk and Carleton, many in all possible low-fi glory, recorded on various 4-Track devices, ranging from power-pop to grimy garage.

•Whopping 32-page booklet has the full story of the band and info on the recordings by Carleton 
•Includes a multitude of unseen photos from his personal archive
•Carefully remastered from the original tapes (+ the occasional post-Lost Souls 45 single)
•”One of the great lost groups of the 60's.” —Option Magazine